The Ambassador Book Award is awarded annually by the English Speaking Union. It recognizes important literary works that contribute to the understanding and interpretation of American life and culture. Winners of the award are considered literary ambassadors who provide, in the best contemporary English, an important window on America to the rest of the world. A panel of judges, currently chaired by author Maureen Howard,[1] selects books out of new works in the fields of fiction , biography, autobiography, current affairs, American studies and poetry.
The award was established in 1986. Since then, winners have included books by such notable authors as Tom Wolfe (1988), Joan Didion (1988), Raymond Carver (1989), Gore Vidal (1989), John Cheever (1992), John Updike (1997)[2], Don Delillo (1998), Philip Roth (1999)[3], and Annie Proulx (2000).
Recent winners of the Ambassador Book Award are:
2007
American Studies – The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, by Timothy Egan
Autobiography – The Afterlife : A Memoir, by Donald Antrim
Biography – The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher, by Debby Applegate
Current Affairs – Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, by Thomas E. Ricks
Fiction – The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel, by Amy Hempel
Poetry – Averno, by Louise Glck
Lifetime Achievement: Garry Wills
2006
American Studies – A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America, by Stacy Schiff
Biography & Autobiography – American Prometheus : The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin
Fiction – Liberation: A Novel, by Joanna Scott
Poetry – Migration, by W.S. Merwin
2005
American Studies – Washington’s Crossing, by David Hackett Fischer
Biography & Autobiography – De Kooning: An American Master, by Mark Stevens
Fiction – Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson
Poetry – Collected Poems, by Donald Justice
2004
American Studies – They Marched into Sunlight, by David Maraniss
Biography & Autobiography – Hawthorne , A Life, by Brenda Wineapple
Fiction – The Time of Our Singing, by Richard Powers
Poetry – Robert Lowell: Collected Poems, edited by Frank Bidart & David Gewanter
Distinguished Achievement Award – Robert A. Caro
2003
Fiction – Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides
American Studies – In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692, by Mary Beth Norton
Biography & Autobiography – Jesse James : Last Rebel of the Civil War, by T. J. Stiles
Poetry – Springing, New and Selected Poems, by Marie Ponsot
Lifetime Achievement Award – Edmund S. Morgan


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